The (possible) start of school for five-year-old Adriel Aroacha is Monday, and the Needville Independent School District will be forced to finally make a decision on what to do about the child's long hair.
Adriel's parents say they'll take the boy to kindergarten, and if he is sent home they'll bring him back the next day, but they're not cutting his hair. Background stories are here and here, but essentially Adriel's long hair is both a symbol of his family's American Indian beliefs and a violation of the Needville dress code.
The school board has met once to talk about the case, but it decided to make no decision on Adriel's hair until his parents enrolled him in school. Needville parents and other residents that showed up for the July meeting made it clear they did not want to bend the district's dress code rules.
Adriel's father Kenney says his son is enrolled, but the family has not been told what to expect on Monday.
"We're just waiting," Kenney says. "Their lawyers and our lawyers are talking, but we haven't heard anything."
The superintendent of Needville schools, Curtis Rhodes, previously told the Houston Press that he did not think Adriel's hair qualified as a religious belief. Now Rhodes is keeping quiet, saying that he doesn't want to talk about a specific student.
"I'm not going to go into any of the details, but we have laws about enrollment, nothing was ever discussed, that was all media publicity that went out that Needville was going to deny enrollment to anyone," Rhodes tells Hair Balls. "But I can't discuss it and I won't."
-- Paul Knight
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.